Friday, March 6, 2015

How to Survive a Shitstorm (Deep Acceptance)

My family got walloped this week. Not just with snow. Carl hurt his back Monday morning. So badly he couldn’t get up for three days straight. I had a migraine that started Sunday and lasted until Wednesday. And the three-year-old and pug can’t take care of themselves just because we’re sick and hurt. (Can we put that clause in the parenting contract somewhere?)  

Immobile trumps migraine, so I was caring for everyone with my headache. I do not recommend this. By Wednesday night, I felt beaten. Driving home from work, exhausted, head pounding, I put in a CD called The Deepest Acceptance by Jeff Foster. He reminded me that most of my suffering comes when I want things to be different from how they are. Right. It’s so simple and so true. Is the headache causing my pain, or the fact that I want the headache to go away right this instant? Is Carl being on his back causing my pain or the fact that I want him to be up and helping right this instant? Is the snow causing my pain or the fact that I want it to be spring right this instant? Usually, what is causing my suffering is the latter. Something happens, and I don’t like it, but it’s the fighting against it tooth and nail that causes the bulk of my pain.

Why is this thought helpful? Because I can’t change the fact that the headache is here. I have meds, but they don’t always work. The headaches come when they come, and go when they go. But changing the way I think about them does relieve some of the suffering.

The snow is another example. I hate winter. So when a friend texted me yesterday to ask if Daniel and I wanted to come play in the snow with her, my first (inward) response was “hell, no.” But, after being cooped up all morning with my husband on his fourth day at home immobile, I decided an outing was a good idea. We bundled up, and trudged outside. Daniel brought his shovel with him, shoveling walks as we went. I had to admit, once I stopped wishing the snow wasn’t here, that it was beautiful. My friend was thrilled to see us, which further lifted my spirits. We lied on her lawn and made snow angels. We hunted for a sled in her basement, finding an old snowboard instead. We constructed a hill on her porch steps, then watched Daniel slide down it over and over and over, saying, “I wanna go fast!” and “Can I go again?” My grumpiness and my headache slid away as Daniel slid down the hill, as we laughed and played in the crisp winter air, laughing and loving it. 

Some days pain appears, some days joy appears. Some days both. Jeff Foster says we don’t have to try accept anything, that anything that appears we have already allowed into our experience, and have therefore already accepted. I like that. I don’t have to try to accept, I’ve already accepted. Just for today, I accept that it is March 6, that my world is snow covered, that I did not get as much work done this week as I wanted, but that I took care of myself, I was a good wife, a good mom, and I had a beautiful day with my boy yesterday. Just for today, that feels like enough.